In 1886, St. Matthew’s was founded as a German National parish and stayed that way throughout the first half of the 20th century. It emerged during the second half of the 20th century as a strong, urban, Catholic community engaged in the worship of God and the service of neighbor.
Over the past fifty years, beginning with the leadership of committed parish members and energetic pastors – Msgr. Cecka, Fathers Bill Whittier and Gene Pascholl – our parish community set itself on the road to implementing the letter and spirit of the Vatican II Council.
For all of that time, parish lay leadership has been the back bone of this mission to be “a visible expression of God’s love in the world”.
In 1978, Fr. Steve Adrian became the parish priest and pastor of our community. Over the years the parish engagement with the West Side community has grown.
Since its inception, children have been at the center of St. Matthew’s mission, beginning with the School. Today, St. Matthew’s is a community school in which parish and non-parish children and families find an educational opportunity which prepares our students to succeed in high school and higher education. The majority of our students are children of color and the majority of families are not members of Saint Matthew’s Church. The same can be said for our Child Care center and our before and after school program – KLT.
The West Side has always been an immigrant community – a community on the banks of the Mississippi River; and Saint Matthew’s seeks to welcome the “new comer” with open arms. New immigrants often need opportunities to establish themselves. Saint Matthew’s members were instrumental in the establishment of our local housing and commercial development corporation – The Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA). The challenge is to make sure that the work done in brick and mortar sustains people – body and soul – and that development embraces all that is needed for people to live with dignity and grace.
Whenever possible, St. Matthew’s has welcomed partnerships on our campus that enrich our parish life and advance our mission to serve the community.
The hundreds of people - children, men and women – who come to Saint Matthew’s each week for their evening meal through Loaves and Fishes, seek to satisfy their hungers – hunger for food, hunger for companionship, hunger for neighborhood connections, hunger of body and soul.
Since 1992, St. Matthew’s has provided a place for people to get their most basic health care needs met free of charge. Our partnership with St. Mary’s Health Clinic has meant that low income families in our community, who didn’t have health insurance, nevertheless had a place to bring their children when they were sick and get medicine for them at no cost.
Our latest partnership is with Casa Guadalupana. The 125 year old priests’ house on the corner of Hall and Robie is no longer a residence for clergy; it is a Catholic Worker House. In the spirit and example of Dorothy Day, Casa welcomes immigrant families who are in crisis or temporarily unable to meet their most basic needs.
Fr. Bob Kelly, OP, became parochial administrator of the Church of St. Matthew in November of 2017.